Sally Budge-up watched from under the cafe table as four
pairs of feet strolled out into the sunshine. The door closed
behind them. Sally Budge-up wasn’t pleased.
Two of those feet were attached
to her best friend Tilly. Two of those feet should have stopped
at the door, turned around and come right back to the table. Then
Tilly should have peered under the table, rescued Sally from where
she’d fallen, and given her a kiss on the nose.
But Tilly’s red trainers didn’t
stop. They followed her dad’s flip-flops, her mum’s smart boots,
and her brother Ozzie’s yellow wellingtons out into the sunshine.
Sally sulked. They’d forgotten
her again. She lay on her front on the crumb-scattered carpet,
Sally wasn’t a big bear, as teddy
bears go. She was easy to overlook. But she knew she was a Very
Important Bear to Tilly. She was the first bear Tilly had ever
had, swinging from the hood of Tilly’s pram by a narrow red ribbon.
Till Tilly had grown too big for her pram. And then, she was still
Tilly’s Best Bear, because she was easy to tuck into a pocket,
and very good company. How dare they leave her behind, all alone
and covered in crumbs?
She lay under the cafe table and
waited, with a not-pleased face on. She knew Tilly would be back
soon, looking for her. She stared hard at the door, wishing it
It did. Two pairs of big brown
walking boots came in, and stopped right beside her. Sally shut
her eyes tight and made herself really small as the huge boots
arranged themselves under her table. Her stuffing was just right....
she didn’t want it rearranged.
What a lot of room
they took up, those boots. And they were attached to long legs that
kept stretching and bending. She was glad when they vanished...
she was quite worn out from keeping out of their way.
“The next feet will definitely
be Tilly’s,” she said to herself with complete confidence. They
never forgot her for long. But the next feet were in a pair of
big, black shoes. Soon, the shoes were slipped off, and she was
in the company of some Very Smelly Socks. She decided not to breathe
for a while.
After the socks
came a whole family of feet, including four furry paws attached
to a not-very-polite nose. Sally was sniffed, and slurped, and pushed
about until she managed to squeeze herself behind a table leg. She
was quite soggy by the time the family left, and not sorry to se
As they left the cafe, a small
pair of feet in gym shoes followed them to the door. There was
a click. The door was locked. The cafe was closed.
And Tilly hadn’t come back.
Sally could hardly believe it.
Tilly was always forgetting where she’d put her bear, but she’d
never left her behind in a strange place before. Good job it was
just the start of the holidays. Sally didn’t fancy a whole night
under the table, but Tilly would be back first thing in the morning.
She would definitely miss her bear at bedtime.
New sounds began to clatter down to Sally’s cave...rattling
of cups and saucers being stacked on a tin tray, clatter of cutlery,
swishing of tablecloths as they were whipped from the tables and
All at once, the noises were right
over Sally’s head. Light streamed under the table as the cloth
was whipped away. Sally Budge-up blinked. A pair of small white
pumps, topped by blue jeans, was walking away from her table.
There was a click, then a new
sound, a loud, droning, sucking sound that Sally recognised. The
white pumps were coming towards her, but this time they were behind
a huge and grinning vacuum cleaner.
Sally cringed. The monster was
coming nearer, gobbling up all in its path...cake crumbs danced
in the air before disappearing down the open jaws; bits of cotton
clung to the carpet for dear life, but to no avail. A hairgrip
vanished forever, rattling a useless protest.
Sally wished she could climb a
chair leg to safety. All that lay between her and the munching
monster were a foot of carpet, some shreds of coconut, and a shiny
penny. Sally screwed her eyes up and waited, waited for the moment
when she would disappear forever into the hungry hoover.
She said goodbye to the sunshine
and the day; goodbye to Tilly who hadn’t come back; goodbye to
Ozzie, who hadn’t noticed the Absence of Bear and raised the alarm.
Sally Budge-up screwed up her
eyes as tight as she could, and waited.
There was a sudden loud crack,
then a rattle, then a grinding wheeze.
One white gym-shoe
stepped on a button on the vacuum cleaner, and there was quiet again.
Sally peeped with one eye.
A small, freckly face surrounded
by curly brown hair came down to look inside the monstrous beast.
The penny was removed, battered and dirty, and the face was vanishing
Sally Budge-up made herself as
big and yellow was she could. “See me,” she thought. “Look, here
I am, down here. Please don’t go away.”
And it worked. A soft hand that
smelled of lemons and icing sugar reached in and lifted Sally
from her dungeon.
“Look Mum, someone’s old ted got
left behind,” the girl said, shaking Sally free of crumbs.
“I expect they’ll be back tomorrow,”
came the reply. “ Bit of a scruffy-looking individual.” They both
Sally Budge-up was outraged. Old
ted? Scruffy-looking Individual? Just let them say that to her
face. They’d be sorry.
The girl set Sally down on a table
top, and Sally watched her as she tidied the cafe. Older than
Tilly. Tilly was eight,
but this girl must be quite old. Ten, or even eleven. She had
smiley eyes and lots of hair. Sally tried hard not to like her...she
was still feeling insulted.
The girl went round the cafe very
efficiently, clearing and wiping tables, putting away salt and
pepper pots. When she had finished, she picked up Sally again
and smiled at her. “She’s a nice little bear, Mum. It’s a shame.
Some little kid will be missing her,” she said, and she looked
into Sally’s eyes. “Wonder who you belong to, little ‘un?”
Sally stopped trying not to like
her. This girl was obviously a Very Nice Person Indeed.
“Pop her up here on the counter,
Lucy,” her mother said. “ If they’re staying locally, they might
call again. Put the little bear where it will be spotted.”
Lucy put Sally on the counter,
propped against the side of the till. And there she stayed.
She stayed there all night. And the next day. And the
day after that. She watched the people come and go, but none of
them was Tilly. And she didn’t see Lucy again till a whole week
had gone by, and it was Saturday again.
“How could they have forgotten
me, right at the start of the holidays,” Sally thought sadly.
“Think of what I’m missing. Picnics by the lake. Campfires. Walking
on Hadrian’s Wall.”
She was not a happy bear. Every
time the till was opened, a bell rang very loudly, right next
to her ear. It made her eyes wobble like mad. And every time the
till was closed, the whole counter clattered and shook. And so
At the end of the day, after she had tidied the cafe,
Lucy took Sally from her noisy perch.
“No-one’s been for the little
bear, Mum. What should we do with her?” she asked, smoothing Sally’s
left ear, which had curled up from the noise of the till.
“Give it another week, I think.
Then if she’s not claimed you can keep her if you like. Or give
her to the Jumble.”
Sally Budge-up gasped with dismay.
She’d never seen a Jumble, and hardly dared imagine what one was
like. It sounded like some huge and hungry animal.
Yes, that was it. A mountainous
beast it would be, with little squinty eyes, a snuffly flat nose,
and rows of great big grinding teeth.
An animal that had a liking for
Teddy Bears’ Picnics of the Worst Kind. Sally
“Keep me, Lucy,” she thought,
as loudly as she could. “ I wouldn’t eat much, honestly. And I’d
keep my toy box tidy. I’d even tell you my best jokes.”
Lucy gave her a kiss on the nose.
“Give it another week then,” she
said, popping Sally back on the counter. She winced as her fur
met the cold metal of the cash-till.
“Dinnnngggggg.” Lucy’s mother
rang open the drawer, and Sally’s eyes wobbled like mad.
“Ah well,” she said to herself,
as she and the counter clattered and shook. “I’d rather sit up
here and be deafened a bit, than sent to the jaws of the Jumble.”
That night, in the dark cafe, as she drifted off to sleep,
Sally thought about Tilly. Where was she now? What had she been
doing all week, Without Sally? Had she been pony-trekking? She’d
promised to take Sally along in her top pocket, with her head
Why hadn’t she come back to find
her? Didn’t she realise that Sally faced a terrible end if she
didn’t come soon?
She dreamt that night of a fearsome
Jumble, short-legged and fat but very fast, who chased her through
the deserted town till she could almost feel its hot breath on
the backs of her ears. Then, at the last possible moment, Tilly
appeared, mounted on a chestnut pony, and chased the brute away.
The next week went by very quickly. Sally saw many families
come and go, but not her own family. Not Tilly and Ozzie and Mum
and Dad. At last it was Saturday again.
When Lucy came into the shop,
Sally sat up straight, opened her eyes very wide, and thought
tidy thoughts. She didn’t want to look like a Scruffy Individual,
but like the kind of fine bear a girl would want to keep.
“It’s today that Tilly goes home.
She’s not coming back for me. It’s Lucy or the Jumble, so I’d
better be my Very Best Self.”
Lucy collected the letters from
the doormat, put them on the counter next to Sally, and began
to set the tables. Her mother was busy in the kitchen. Sally could
hear her singing, and smell the beautiful morning smells of baking
She waited. She wished that Lucy
would stop setting tables and attend to the main business of the
day, which was Telling Sally Budge-up Her Fate.
Would she keep Sally? Would she
put her in the toybox with the other bears? With the knitted badger
with the eye-patch? With the pink chicken and the lop-eared dog?
Or would it be... The Jumble?
She tried to attract Lucy’s attention
by staring at her very hard, but Lucy was busy and didn’t notice.
Sally gave up. She looked around
the room, silently saying goodbye to the neat cafe tables, the
potted geraniums, the pictures of stags and leaping salmon on
Then she noticed the pile of letters
on the counter beside her.
thought Sally, staring at the pale orange envelope at the top of
the pile. “Tilly uses envelopes just like that one. With two ducks
in the corner. Just like those two ducks there.”
She felt a flicker of hope.
Lucy’s mum came in and rang open
the till. Sally’s eyes wobbled like mad. Her ears jangled as Lucy’s
mum dropped in a handful of coins.
While Sally was still shaking
and wobbling, Lucy’s mum began to sort through the mail. First
she opened the one in a brown envelope and said “Good Grief.”
Then she opened a very fat letter
in a white envelope. She sat down at a table to read it. She laughed
a lot, and read bits out to Lucy. It took ages. Sally was getting
At last, Lucy’s mum picked up
the pale orange envelope with two ducks in the corner. Sally Budge-up
held her breath.
“Look at this, Lucy,” she smiled.
“ It’s addressed to: The Little Cafe With Geranium Tubs, Near
The Roman Fort, Lanercost. I’m amazed it found us. Who can it
be from?” She opened the
envelope carefully and read the note.
“Well well,” she said. “It’s from
a little girl called Tilly. Lives right down on the South Coast. Came in a fortnight ago at the start of
her holiday and had a nice dinner, she says. Especially the gooseberry
tart. Then she went up to the Roman Fort, fell off Hadrian’s Wall
and broke her arm. Had to go home the next day, in plaster. Wants
to know if we’ve found her bear.”
That afternoon, Lucy said goodbye to Sally. She packed
her carefully in a box lined with yellow tissue paper. Sally wasn’t
keen, but she went quietly.
She didn’t much enjoy the journey
by train; too much time spent upside-down. After a long time and
a few hard landings, everything was still and quiet. Sally dozed.
Suddenly, she was woken as the
box was snatched up. She heard the sound of wrappings being torn
away. Light filled the box, and happiness filled a very little
Tilly looked down at her, beaming.
“It’s Sally Budgeup. Look, Ozzie,
Tilly lifted Sally out with her
good hand. The other one was still in plaster. She gave Sally
an enormous hug, and kissed her on the nose.
Sally forgave her everything.
She forgave her for dropping her under the café table. She forgave
her for Not Noticing. She forgave her for being so careless as
to fall off Hadrian’s Wall.
should put a No Climbing notice on his wall,” Sally Budgeup said
to herself. “But oh, it’s good to be back. Tilly is so much better
than the jaws of the Jumble.”